I got up early this morning, earlier than usual, for my regular Saturday shift at the club. I work there part time and for my situation - stay-at-home mom trying to write a novel - it's about as perfect as it gets. No wonder so many people - school acquaintances, parents' of my daughters' friends, members at the club - ask me routinely if they're hiring.
I relish the early hour. It feels as though it's a whole world just to myself - quiet, uninterrupted, peaceful. The cool morning air that will eventually turn hot in the September sun, the drive-in along country roads, the breezy air and rustling trees as I walk through the empty parking lot.
Best of all, though, is the pool deck where I find myself after opening all of the necessary doors and turning on all of the necessary lights.
It is breezy, still, and the wind makes ripples along the clear water. The sun is only half up, lighting part of the concrete, warming my skin. There is a view, open sky, and the air smells of the beach. If I close my eyes, I can imagine myself there, salt water sulphuric humidity enveloping me.
I think of a friend who is visiting family in South Carolina this weekend, and a picture of the marsh that she posted on facebook. The photo was taken in the evening. There is a hint of pink in the sky from the setting sun, and seagrass is silhouetted against the water. Like me, she is a beach person.
She is battling stage four breast cancer right now, and I think, in the morning sun, on the pool deck, at the beach, of how short life is and how terrible it would be to never be able to make it back to the shore for good.
My oldest daughter occasionally zings me, usually from the backseat of our truck, with the verbalization of her longing to live at the beach, followed by the question of "when?" Her father told her long ago that we would, a promise that perhaps he should not have made.
But really, "when?" is a good question. Life is short and our obligations only as binding as we make them. It's really about fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the risks associated with such a drastic change, fear of the consequences when so much is at stake besides ourselves. "When?" is more a question of when do we conquer that fear and allow it to fade away so we can live the life we truly want to live, instead of the one we have to.
I am old enough now to know that someday is always just that - some day. There is always something new in our way that keeps us from our goal. It reminds me of a short story I read in English class once. It was about a road, hedged on both sides. People wandered along that road their entire lives and the hedge was a barrier for them that forced them forward. Every so often, someone would decide to turn and go through the hedge instead, to see what lay on the other side. That may not have been the full point of the story - it was probably about something more serious but for me, twenty years later, this is what I take away from it.
I think the story is perfect, and true. I know, ultimately, what lies on the other side of that hedge - it's big and blue and windy and smells of sulphur. I hope we choose to go through the hedge sooner rather than later, but for right now, it's the journey through that scares the hell out of me.